RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 02/03/2016

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If you didn't visit RealClearHealth's website yesterday, here's some of what you missed:


  • Shkreli on Drug Price Hike: 'Almost All of It Is Profit' - Johnson, Wonkblog
  • Partisan Split Threatens 21st Century Cures Bill - Sheila Kaplan, Stat
  • Study Supports Long Shifts for Surgical Residents - Jordan Rau, KHN

Today's Top Stories

Health Issues on Agenda at Obama, Ryan Lunch
James Arkin, RCPolitics
During the two men’s meeting – which also included Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – Earnest said Obama’s five topics of interest were criminal justice reform, the growing opioid crisis, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Puerto Rico’s fiscal challenges and the White House’s “moonshot” to cure cancer. The speaker also brought up the Zika virus, criminal justice reform, concerns about the Visa Waiver Program, and reforming the mental health care system, according to a readout from Ryan’s office.

Valeant, Turing Hiked Prices to Hit Profit Goals
Armour & Rockoff, WSJ
Drugmakers Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. and Turing Pharmaceuticals AG boosted the prices of newly acquired drugs to meet preset profit targets, congressional investigators wrote in memos that summarized internal company documents they obtained.

Startup Tracks 'Valuable' Doctors for Big Pharma
Caroline Chen, B'berg
Physicians are worth billions of dollars to drugmakers, who see the prescription pad as a path to profits. But it’s growing harder for Big Pharma to get doctors’ appointments. Since 2010, Obamacare has slowly curbed the mass travel junkets and fancy meals that drug companies once used to sway the doctors most valuable to their efforts to sell products.

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Virtual Reality's Promise, Risk for Therapies
Marco della Cava, USA Today
The increasingly vivid virtual world has the power to help veterans overcome post-traumatic stress syndrome and heroin users kick their habits. But for all the health benefits, risks loom — namely, that overexposure to virtual reality may generate its own trauma.

Head Of California Exchange Scolds UnitedHealth
Chad Terhune, KHN
In a blistering critique, Covered California’s executive director, Peter Lee, said UnitedHealth Group Inc. made a series of blunders on rates and networks that led to a $475 million loss last year on individual policies across the country. The company estimates a similar exchange-related loss of $500 million for this year.

Democrats Seek to Disband Planned Parenthood Probe
Ferris, The Hill
Two dozen Democratic senators signed a letter to Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accusing the party of a politically motivated “witch hunt” against the organization. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for president, also signed the letter.

Mother Sues over Child with Cystic Fibrosis
Amy Beth Hanson, AP
A Montana mother is suing her health care providers because they failed to diagnose her unborn daughter's cystic fibrosis, denying her a chance to have an abortion.

Announcements Show Payment Models Changing in Pa.
Brubaker, PI
Two announcements Tuesday illustrate the apparently inexorable trend in health care toward payment for results rather than payment for the quantity of care provided.

Fla. Facing a 'Nursing Shortage Tsunami'
Kathleen McGrory, T.B. Times
Nursing shortages have come and gone for decades. But there's reason to believe this one could be a prolonged problem. Observers are particularly troubled because the number of vacancies has increased more than 30 percent since 2013, according to the report. Compounding the problem, another 9,947 nursing positions are expected to be created in 2016.

Anger, Suspicion Fuel TB Outbreak in Rural Ala.
Leah Samuel, Stat
State officials and outreach workers say the outbreak has proved hard to control, in part, because local residents have been wary of outsiders and unwilling to cooperate with important tasks such as tracing each infected patient's contacts throughout the community.

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